International Zoo Educator Day

Thank you to all the zoo educators who help people fall in love with animals and conservation.

“A favorite memory working in Zoo Education is: I was working a Night Camp with a title one school from an area where most of the families were migrant workers. We took the kids on a night hike around the Zoo and told them all kinds of information and stories about the animals. I remember one girl was amazed at everything we showed and told them. Later on in the night during snack she came up to me and asked if people really do have a job working in a zoo. I told her people do and there are all kinds of jobs at the zoo. She got very excited and told me she thought that she would want to work in a zoo someday. She had never thought about it before and was so excited to realize that her world was just a little bit bigger than it had before she came to the Zoo.” – Kim Duvall, Senior Guide

“I love being a Zoo Educator. Working with kids is such a crazy adventure; you never know what’s going on in their brains. You think your day is going to be about hawks, but you end up talking about poop for an hour, and I love that kind of chaos. It always seems like I learn at least as much from them as they do from me.” – Carrie Flood, Community Learning Manager

“I love helping teachers understand the social, mental and academic benefits of incorporating environmental education into their classroom. One of the most rewarding feedback I’ve received is when a teacher from Night Camp told us that our program helped her re-energize and re-connect with her students, plus the students learned a lot.” – Leslie Hawkins, Outreach Supervisor

‘Like many zoo educators I started working in Zoo Education due to my love of animals and my enjoyment of working with the ambassador animals. I had a light bulb moment when I was showing some elementary school teachers a snake and we began talking about the snake’s anatomy. The teachers were shocked to find out that snakes had bones. The light bulb went on! Educating and exposing guests to the natural world was bigger than what kind of animals I got to hold.  From that point on my priorities shifted and it was no longer about me and the animals, it was about creating moments with guests.” – Mike Foley, Trail Experiences Manager

“I got involved in Zoo Education, because when I was little I was always so excited to visit the Zoo and I even got to experience Night Camp and Camp Zoo! Those experiences greatly contributed to who I am today. Originally, I wanted to be a zoo keeper, but as time went on I realized that I really just wanted to be like those super cool instructors who little me thought lived at the Zoo with all of the animals. Now here I am, many years later, being that super cool instructor for a new generation! I hope that the campers and guests I meet feel as inspired as I did to care for the natural world and can carry with them the experience that will last a lifetime.” – Liz Mnichowicz, Instructor III

“As educators, our role is to create experiences that strengthen that bond. For me, watching guests engage with signs that I’ve developed, or meeting a family who’s super excited to share what they’ve learned is especially rewarding. Also, the time I played the theremin under a full moon for an audience composed entirely of giraffes was pretty cool too.” – Matt Strangwayes, Interpretive Content Manager

“I got into Zoo Education, because I love animals and education! I love feeling that what I’m doing makes a difference in people’s lives as well as animals’ lives. The first time I got to present an ambassador animal to some campers was very special; I felt so honored to be the one helping them have that special experience. I love presenting the Madagascar hissing cockroaches and helping kids see those animals in a whole new way.” – Wendi Grezlak, Facilitator III

“I’ve been a zoo educator for over 20 years now and I still always get excited when a guest or participant gets excited about what they’re learning. We help people build deep connections with nature and grow passion to care for the natural. You can see it happening in their eyes. I live for those moments.” – Gabby Hebert, Director of Education